A MULTI million-pound renovation of a whisky distillery has been officially opened by a Mercury Prize-nominated jazz musician.

The Caol Ila Distillery on Islay has been transformed into a “world-class” visitor experience after a four-year renovation project.

Mercury Prize-nominated jazz pianist Fergus McCreadie attended the opening and played a piece of music inspired by the distillery’s name.

Caol Ila means Sound of Islay in Gaelic, with the distillery taking its name from the stretch of water between Islay and the neighbouring island of Jura.

The new building offers panoramic views of the water as well as a brand-new bar and retail space.

The National:

McCreadie, who is up against the likes of Harry Styles and Sam Fender at this year’s Mercury Prize, said that his music is often influenced by the beauty of Scotland’s islands.

“I’ve spent many wonderful months immersed in this unique island and I’m always inspired by its unique landscape and beauty.

“The craft of distilling whisky plays such an important role in Islay’s story and this new visitor experience brings it to life in a new and exciting way.”

Caol Ila’s parent company Diageo has invested heavily in whisky tourism.

This renovation completes the company’s transformation of its “Four Corners” distilleries, which are recognised as key ingredients in the Johnnie Walker blend and tell the wider origin story of Scotland’s national tipple.

Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scotland brand homes, said: “Caol Ila is the last of our reimagined brand homes to be unveiled and it’s truly something special.

The National:

"Islay is known around the world for its whisky and we’ve ensured that our visitor experience not only tells the story of the Caol Ila brand but also the major role whisky plays in the island’s history.

"The new building will offer something new and unique to visitors and also to locals who will be able to come for social occasions or just to simply enjoy the stunning views.

"We look forward to welcoming people from near and far now that our doors are officially open.”

A local artist was also given the opportunity to design a special Johnnie Walker Striding Man statue for the new venue. 

Rosemary Fletcher and her two daughters, Cairistiona Fletcher and Jessica May Fletcher, were inspired by Islay's dramatic landscapes when creating the statue.